When someone doesn't turn up to work, it can impact your business in various ways.

No-shows can cause projects to be derailed or delayed. They cause other staff to have to make up the loss, adversely effecting their own productivity and stress levels. These have knock-on effects that mean all kinds of chaos ca be unleashed on your schedules.

Customers expecting certain levels of service are left disappointed when they're ignored.

Relationships with suppliers that need managing and paying can be damaged, if their contacts are unreachable.

These effects all contribute to dropped productivity levels and loss of revenue. So in order to prepare for and manage unplanned absence, here's a quick look at the most common reasons why employees might decide to avoid work. You'll be surprised how big the numbers can be.

1. Minor illnesses

Minor illnesses accounted for around 34 million lost working days in 2016 - nearly 25 percent of the total days lost to staff absence.

Minor illnesses are the most common cause of short-term absence, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This includes illnesses like:

  • Colds and the flu.
  • Chest infections.
  • Headaches.
  • Back and joint pain.

Since 2003, there has been a general drop in the number of days lost to sickness absence in the UK. However, there were increases in 2014 and 2015.

There were 5.5 million working days lost due to workplace injuries and accidents in Britain in 2016/17. The majority of these occurred in the manufacturing and construction sectors, but injuries and accidents do happen in almost every industry.

Research from the Health and Safety Executive shows that the estimated cost of injuries and ill health from working conditions in 2015/2016 amounted to £14.9 billion.

3. Family emergencies

A "family emergency" is a fairly vague term, and it can refer to a wide range of different situations. An employee might need to take the day off to look after their child or perhaps an elderly parent, for example.

Employees can take time off work to manage an emergency involving a parent, partner, child, grandchild or someone who depends on them for care.

4. Recurring medical conditions

Recurring medical conditions can also result in unexpected absences from your organisation; we're talking about conditions such as asthma, diabetes and bronchitis.

Older workers - people aged 65 and over - experience the highest rates of sickness absence in the UK, according to research from the Office for National Statistics. Smokers, part-time workers and workers living in Scotland and Wales are also more likely to take time off work due to sickness.

5. Stress

Stress and anxiety are affecting more employees than ever before, resulting in lots of time off work.

The average employee in the UK takes seven days off sick every year, and 40 percent of all absences are due to mental health-related problems, according to the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

6. Faking it

Unfortunately twenty-eight percent of employees have called in sick to work even when there's nothing wrong with them, according to one study. Thirty percent of these employees didn't feel like going to work, 29 percent wanted to relax at home, and 19 percent just wanted to sleep.

Not all employees get away with faking a sickie though. An increasing amount of employers check to see if an employee is telling the truth about their illness, and 18 percent of workers have ended up getting the chop for lying about being sick.

How to get your employees to miss work less often

So, they've got plenty of reasons to be absent. How do you stop it happening?

Firstly, punishment won't do the trick. Short-term, stricter policies might cause a reduced absence rate, but you run the risk of workers getting burnt out, and spreading illness if they come into the office while sick.

The real solution is to encourage employee health and wellbeing, by operating a peaceful and comfortable work environment, and encouraging them to take time off.

Have a look at our in-depth guide on how to reduce sickness absence for more.